Posted: Wed 18th Mar 2020

Welsh Government bringing forward the Easter break for schools in Wales

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Mar 18th, 2020

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Schools across Wales are to close early for Easter the Welsh Government has announced. 

Two schools in Flintshire have been subject to partial closures today due to staffing issues, now the Welsh Government has moved to bring the Easter break forward.

Minister for Education, Kirsty Williams has said all schools will close by Friday at the latest. 

“I have been clear up to now that the continuity of education and the wellbeing of our learners has been at the heart of my decision making. This will always be the case.’ The minister said. 

Schools will now have a vital role to play in providing care for the children of key public sector workers, such as NHS staff, and vulnerable children reliant on free school meals.

Kirsty Williams said: “From next week, schools will have a new purpose, they will help support those most in need, including people involved in the immediate response to the coronavirus outbreak.

I am working with my colleagues in the Cabinet, with government officials and our partners in local government to develop and finalise these plans.

The key areas we are looking at are supporting and safeguarding the vulnerable and ensuring continuity of learning.

We are looking in detail at how we can support and safeguard all those who benefit from free school meals and children with additional learning needs. I will make sure you are kept up-to-date.”

Other childcare settings are expected to remain open until until definitive advice from the Chief Medical Officer and from Public Health Wales that any closures are required.

“Parents can, and should, speak with their usual childcare providers if they need care over the Easter holidays.” Kirsty Williams said. 

“I have discussed my intentions with the Leader of the Welsh Local Government Association, Andrew Morgan, who reflects the views of local authorities.

Some school staff will likely have an important role to play in this.” She added. 

Welsh Government is working with ‘key stakeholders’ to look at what this will look like for both education and childcare settings, including Flying Start.

“This position will of course evolve over the coming days and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis.” The minister said. 

One of the critical decisions the government will seek to clarify ‘with urgency’ is that of the forthcoming examinations.

“I am also working with Qualifications Wales and the WJEC about this year’s exam series.

In line with all education ministers across the UK, I will be making a further announcement shortly.” Kirsty Williams said. 

“From the outset, the decisions being taken have been focused on public health advice, and it is right that these science-based recommendations are front and centre of the decisions being made.

The announcement I am making today will help ensure an orderly closure for schools so that they have the time to prepare.

However, I am conscious that the SAGE Committee and COBR meet this afternoon, and I will of course be listening closely to see if advice changes and any further urgent decisions about school closures are needed.” She added.

Plaid Cymru Shadow Minister for Education Sian Gwenllian AM said,

“The announcement that schools will now close for statutory provision is to be welcomed but we urgently need further clarity and clear guidelines from the Education Minister on the short term role of our schools going forward.

It’s also time to scrap, postpone or adapt GCSE and A Level exams – with the aim of holding them later on in the autumn or coming to other arrangements, to ease the burden and pressure on schools who are already struggling to stay open due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

A whole range of options could be looked at including using predicted grades as a basis for University entrance or adapting GCSE courses.

Students should also be adequately supported with consideration giving to their mental health well-being in light of the changes to examinations.

Teachers and key school staff need to know how grateful we are for the crucial work they are doing as they operate on the frontline of the fight against Coronavirus by caring for our children.

There’s been an unacceptable lack of leadership from Welsh Government when it comes to providing clear guidance to our schools and teachers to date. We welcome the preparedness now to lead and not follow.”

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